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Fact or Fiction: Most impressive camp; players to watch


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

The player who has helped himself the most this summer is Darnay Holmes.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Holmes has certainly helped himself with his ability to get his hands on the football and force some takeaways, but Iwas another cornerback on the roster realistically going to take the nickel cornerback job from him? Cordale Flott is a rookie and no one else behind him has extensive experience playing in the slot at the NFL level. Even if he had an average summer, the job would have been his. Collin Johnson is another story. Heading into training camp it was going to be a tough slog for him to earn a roster spot on the final 53 just because of the other wide receivers on the roster. But his play has catapulted him ahead to the point where it would be surprising if he was not on the final roster.

Dan Salomone: Fact – You know you're doing well when you earn a nickname at camp. "I call him Dirty 30," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "I just love his toughness, and I'm not saying he plays dirty. I'm just talking about how he embraces the grind of practicing every day, doing things right and asking the right questions. He's got some qualities that we haven't had before at that position." In addition to the moniker, Holmes also earned a top spot on the depth chart at nickel cornerback.

Lance Medow: Fact – All off-season, you've heard about the state of the secondary given the jobs up for grabs and the overall youth movement. When you take both of those factors into consideration and the fact that Darnay Holmes has been extremely active and opportunistic during training camp practices, it's hard to put someone else ahead of him on the list. The 2020 fourth-round pick watched the Giants select Cor'Dale Flott in the third round of this year's draft and that seemed to have triggered a strong response from Holmes to further motivate him to solidify the nickel.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Holmes has been a bright spot this summer, registering numerous turnovers over the last few weeks. But the third-year corner was likely to start the season as the team's starting nickel corner, regardless, as rookie. Cor'Dale Flott is currently listed as the backup. The player that has helped himself the most this summer is Collin Johnson. The 6-foot-6 receiver has been a reliable target during training camp and in the first preseason game, and has made a strong case to make the team. The Giants have a lot of talent in the wide receiver room, leading to some tough competition, especially once you get past the top few guys on the depth chart.

Evan Neal is the player you're most interested to watch in the second preseason game.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – It would be great to see Neal get some snaps against Trey Hendrickson this week against the Bengals but let's get locked in on Aaron Robinson going against one of the best receiving corps in football. Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are three receivers with different upper-echelon skill sets that should test Robinson in different ways. Boyd is quick. Higgins is big and excellent on vertical routes. Ja'Marr Chase is good at…. well, everything. Robinson will be looking to play well in his second preseason game and he will have a tough group to prove himself against. Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale are trying to figure out who on this roster can be trusted to play man-to-man defense on an island, and this game will be a great test given the Bengals talent at wide receiver.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The offensive line will be a topic of conversation with the Giants until it isn't. How Neal develops opposite Andrew Thomas will go a long way in the progression of the offense and, by extension, the team.

Lance Medow: Fiction – The best way to observe the potential and upside of an offensive lineman is to see him compete against starting-caliber players and it's hard to tell how many and how long the Bengals will employ that personnel in Sunday's game. Although you can say the same thing about players at other positions, let's lean more toward Wan'Dale Robinson because he had no stats in the preseason opener.

Matt Citak: Fiction – First-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux played just 14 snaps in the first preseason game, eight of which were pass rush snaps. Thibodeaux should get more opportunities against the Bengals, and after watching him display his pass rush moves in practice the last few weeks, he could make an impact against the Bengals.

View photos from the preseason opener between the Giants and Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Outside linebacker is the strongest position on the roster.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – The answer here has to be defensive tackle. Leonard Williams is Pro Bowl or All-Pro caliber nearly every year, and Dexter Lawrence looks like he could be on the verge of a breakout season under Wink Martindale. Jalyn Holmes, Justin Ellis and DJ Davidson are the primary backups but it is the power of the two guys at the top of the depth chart that puts defensive tackle on top. You can argue Lawrence and Williams are two of the five best players on the entire roster.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Like the offensive tackles, the Giants have a quality set of bookends on defense. Azeez Ojulari set the "official" franchise rookie sack record a year ago, and Kayvon Thibodeaux has the ability to make it short-lived. Don't sleep on Quincy Roche, either. He played a lot of snaps last season and has flashed this summer.

Lance Medow: Fiction – When you evaluate positions on the Giants roster from a talent and depth perspective, nothing matches wide receiver. In that group, the team showcases veterans Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Collin Johnson and C.J. Board. You also have young intriguing players including Kadarius Toney and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson along with Richie James, who has battled some injuries throughout his career. You'd be hard pressed to find that volume of talent at other positions, a crucial factor when it comes to protecting yourself from injuries. Outside linebacker does not matche that substance. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari are two young players with a great deal of upside but Thibodeaux has yet to play one regular season snap and Ojulari has only logged one season. Oshane Ximines and Quincy Roche have shown some flashes in past years but Ximines has dealt with injuries.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants currently have Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Quincy Roche, Oshane Ximines and Tomon Fox as their outside linebackers. That is a very talented group right there. Ojulari had eight sacks last season, while Thibodeaux was the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft. Add in Ward, who had three sacks in 10 games playing for Wink Martindale in 2020, and Roche, who picked up 2.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in 14 games for the Giants last season, and it's easy to see why this is a strong group. Elerson Smith is currently working through an injury, but the second-year linebacker has flashed during training camp. The potential of this OLB group is through the roof.

The Giants will be very active on the waiver wire after the 53-man roster reductions.

John Schmeelk: Fact – The Giants already utilized the waiver wire this week when they claimed defensive back Olaijah Griffin after he was released by Joe Schoen's former team, the Buffalo Bills. He spent 2021 on the Bills' practice squad. Especially with the injuries piling up on the offensive line and other spots on the roster, you can predict a lot of new addition in the days following the initial round of cuts. Whenever a new regime takes over a franchise, there is usually a very large roster churn during waiver claims as the new decision makers try to put their stamp on the roster.

Dan Salomone: Fact – More than 1,000 players are about to become available when teams must reduce their rosters from 85 to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Aug. 30. Assistant general manager Brandon Brown said he's been studying preseason games from around the league because you always need to know the "marketplace."

Lance Medow: Fact – The Giants have a high waiver position given their own draft spot (fifth overall) so that alone puts them in position to make some moves. In addition to that favorable slot, given the young nucleus of the team and the fact it's a brand new coaching staff and front office, don't be surprised if they made a handful of transactions after the initial 53-man roster is revealed. Keep in mind, the coaches on staff joined New York from a variety of organizations around the league and if someone becomes available through waivers that they have familiarity with, they could very well tweak the roster.

Matt Citak: Fact – It depends what you classify as "very active," but you can expect the Giants to pick up some players once every team cuts their rosters down to 53. The Giants added three players at that time last year, two of which are still with the team in Collin Johnson and Quincy Roche. Based on the injuries they've had at the position this summer, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Giants try to add an offensive lineman or two. They could also look to add some depth at cornerback depending on who's available, as the players currently listed behind Adoree' Jackson and Aaron Robinson on the depth chart are all either seventh-round picks or undrafted players with limited or no NFL experience.

View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals.


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